Shallow ads undermine sacrifices


SpikeOn Sept. 11, 2010, I returned to 29 Palms, Calif., after a year tour with a Marine Corps infantry regiment in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

My homecoming was the 9-year anniversary of the attacks that triggered the war in Afghanistan. It’s a painfully poetic coincidence, but it means something to me.

The radio station in Yucca Valley played Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys are Back In Town,” and my buddies and I were all smiles when they announced that we were getting close to the base.

When we stepped off the buses we were greeted with hugs, cheers, and bottles of beer.

I run the risk of sounding hyperbolic, but that first beer tasted like freedom.

So you might be surprised to find  that I was offended by this year’s Anheuser-Busch Super Bowl commercial, “A Hero’s Welcome.”

The minute long advertisement shows a homecoming parade staged in Winter Park, Fla., for Lt. Chuck Nadd, a 24-year-old Army helicopter pilot who returned from Afghanistan on Jan. 8.

A video on the Budweiser youtube channel titled “A Hero’s Welcome: Full Story,” features Nadd’s girlfriend, Shannon Cantwell, explaining how she entered Nadd in a contest sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“A friend told me to check out the VFW website,” Cantwell said.

“It said they were looking for one soldier coming home from Afghanistan to represent all soldiers. I thought that Chuck would be the perfect candidate for it,” she said.

If Nadd’s welcome home is a symbolic representation of all Veterans, then I will concede and say that the intentions behind it are pure.

However, when I look beyond the shallow “feel-good” moment, I see how Budweiser is capitalizing on the sacrifices made by soldiers. Budweiser used a commissioned officer as a prop to sell beer, (and a crappy beer at that).

The commercial doesn’t give me the warm and fuzzy feeling of patriotism; rather, it turns my stomach.

My aim is not to come off as the bitter and jaded Veteran. I’m proud of my service and I’m not chasing praise for past accomplishments. I’m incredibly grateful to my fellow Veterans, past and present, and respect their sacrifices, especially those who gave life and limb to secure our way of life.

But as Americans, I think we are forgetting the reason we go to war, and our culture is suffering due to excessive ignorance and pride.

The burden of defending our modern democracy falls on the backs of the American military, and though we reflexively thank them for their service, I think that the honor associated with military service has become a forgotten ideal. We offer banal sentiments, but fail to understand why.

It’s good to extol the virtues of the living, but we all too often fail to remember the reasons for our dead.

A welcome home parade doesn’t do much for honoring the fallen heroes. So what does our military really fight and die for; do they still protect and defend the constitution?

Judging by the message of Budweiser’s  propaganda piece, politicians dispatch the troops to fight wars in order to defend the “Great American Lager.”

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1 Response

  1. darrenkitlor says:

    Epic piece. Smedley Butler would appreciate it.

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